Tivoli fundraising kickoff draws famous ballerinas
December 08, 2009
The Hamilton Spectator
Ballet big guns are lending their support to a community campaign to restore the historic Tivoli Theatre and make it home to a youth ballet ensemble.
Veronica Tennant, the famed prima ballerina for the National Ballet of Canada, was on hand last night for the launch of the Toonies for Tivoli -- Soul of the City campaign by the Canadian Ballet Youth Ensemble (CBYE).
Also on hand was Evelyn Hart, who is artistic consultant to CBYE. She had a distinguished three-decade career as prima ballerina with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
And from Cuba came Alicia Alonso. The 90-year-old founder and director of the National Ballet of Cuba is here to promote her troupe's involvement in the The Nutcracker at Hamilton Place this weekend, but is a big supporter of restoring the Tivoli, said CBYE CEO Belma Gurdil-Diamante.
Alonso is one of half a dozen prima ballerinas who have attained the title assoluta, an ultimate prima ballerina.
The Toonies for Tivoli campaign is part of a $15 million capital campaign to restore the James Street North theatre, which has sat empty since its partial collapse in 2004. Donations of any amount are welcome.
Tennant, who retired in 1989 after 25 years, called restoring the Tivoli "a wonderful idea." She will be contributing to the campaign.
"Theatres have just fantastic echoes of the past," said Tennant, now a film maker. "I'm really behind this. No theatre should be snuffed out."
The CBYE, which hopes to raise $5 million from the toonie campaign, bought the theatre in 2006 for $2 from the Sniderman family of Sam the Record Man fame. It was built in the 1870s and became a theatre in 1924.
The campaign's co-chair is Gina Gentili, director of legal affairs and assistant general counsel of Corus Entertainment. She was on the Royal Ontario Museum board and the Minister of Culture's Advisory Council on Arts and Culture.
Gentili recalls seeing the Ten Commandments movie at the Tivoli when she was a child.